Poster at 9th Pan-Commonwealth Forum conference – September 2019

Next week I will be presenting a poster about the 360-degree VR project at the Pan-Commonwealth Forum conference in Edinburgh, UK. Our session is scheduled for Tuesday (10th) afternoon so if you’re attending we hope to see you there. Alongside handouts of the poster, we’ll also have copies of a brochure that gives information about the TESS-India Toolkit of online Teacher Resources.

A PDF of the poster can be downloaded herePCF9_poster_4_FINAL


Title: 360-degree video and mobile VR for professional development: A case-study of emerging opportunities for teacher education and classroom observation

Abstract: This poster presents the paring of 360-degree video recording and mobile VR viewing as an emerging educational technology with the potential to deliver major benefits to, even a step-change in, teacher professional development. It is widely accepted that teacher education programmes must find ways to more effectively support and engage teachers in their professional development in order to achieve improvements in the quality of teaching practice in low- to medium income countries. Previous educational research in the area of 360-degree video has focused on their use by pupils and taken place in high-income countries. Our research marks a significant departure by refocusing on their use by and for teachers and in more challenging contexts. On paper, these technologies appear to meet the necessary practical requirements for use in low- to medium-income countries, as they are compact, mobile and can exploit user-owned technologies. However, it is difficult to move forward in assessing their potential without evidence from field trials. To this end, we developed and conducted a pilot in a rural district in central India in two primary schools with no mains power or wired internet. 360-degree video cameras were used to record multiple segments from four lessons. The clips were then viewed on mobile VR headsets and individual and group feedback elicited from (i) the in-service teachers who conducted the lessons, (ii) pre-service teachers in a teacher training college, and (iii) teacher educators. The presentation will use these data and a short audience demonstration to explore the following key questions: Can these technologies be made to work in such challenging contexts? What excites and interests in-service teachers, pre-service teachers and teacher educators in this pairing of technologies? How might the opportunities and challenges to their wider implementation and evaluation be framed?


Presentation at 8th Annual mEducation Alliance Symposium in Washington DC – November 2018

I recently presented about the project at the Annual mEducation Alliance Symposium event held in Washington DC. This was a great conference with many really interesting presentations and demonstrations about current uses of mobile technologies for learning.

A copy of our presentation slides is available here:


Citation: Cross, SimonWolfenden, Freda and Adinolfi, Lina (2018). Transforming classroom observation and professional development with 360-degree video and mobile VR. In: 8th Annual mEducation Alliance Symposium, 6-8 Nov 2018, Washington DC, USA

Abstract: The managed use of 360-degree video has the potential to deliver a step-change in how classroom teaching practice in low- and medium-income countries is recorded, watched, shared and integrated into teacher development activities. This presentation reports how a pilot conducted in Madhya Pradesh, India used a combination of mobile technologies to achieve 360-video recording and viewing in remote classrooms without electricity or internet. Merely demonstrating this was feasible is an important accomplishment. However, the paper will focus on unpacking the overwhelming positive response from teachers to the truly immersive experience of watching 360-video in virtual reality using a standard smartphone fitted to an inexpensive VR headset. Repeated viewing allows teachers to focus on different parts of the room, build critical skills such as noticing and reflection, and to learn from others practice by ‘sitting in’ on lessons conducted hundred if not thousands of miles away. The benefits to pre-service and in-service professional development and potential for utilisation of teacher owned mobile devices will be discussed using examples from the pilot and a nascent framework being developed by the project team.

How does it work?

The technique we have developed uses emerging and inexpensive consumer technologies and software. In combination, this allows us to record, transfer, and play 360-degree video to teachers using mobile VR headsets; with or without the need for any cables, electricity or the internet. The technologies in use are increasingly becoming mainstream, making it essential that we anticipate these trends and undertake research ‘today’ into  how best to frame, guide, support and implement their use ‘tomorrow’.

Our pilot kit comprised six items, although in theory if the teacher were able to use their own smartphone with the headset then only two (a headset of some sort and a 360-degree camera of some make) would be required – the tripod, USB charger and headphones just make things easier, especially in situations where there is noise (so the smartphone speaker cannot be heard), have no power (phone and camera may require recharging) and no make-shift method of supporting the camera. This equipment is fully mobile and easily fits into a small bag or satchel.


Our approach involves a number of teaching practice-related and technology-related stages. Two key stages are the recording of the video and, once transferred to the smartphone, viewing the video on a VR headset. The following graphic describes these and is illustrated with images from the pilot.


Trainee Teacher Workshop

As our analysis of the data collected in our field visit in December 2017 progresses we have now turned to the output from the workshop held in a DIET (pre-service teacher training college). Around 50 pre-service teachers took part in group activities where they were given a brief experience of looking at 360-degree images using a mobile VR headset and then asked about potential benefits and challenges for integrating into their learning, professional development and use directly with their learners. We are looking forward to reviewing the feedback and posters in detail. In the meantime, we’d like to again thank all those who took part.



State Support

We are delighted to have received a letter of support from the educational authorities in Madhya Pradesh. This demonstrates an ongoing interest in our project by RSK at state government level and we very much hope will help in future funding applications.

Local press coverage

Our colleagues in Bhopal passed me this local newspaper clipping reporting on our recent research visit to India. Great to see the work getting coverage.  Simon and Lina are pictured by the desk demonstrating two VR headsets (Samsung Gear and Google Cardboard) and two 360-degree cameras to trainee teachers at the beginning of a workshop.



Field trials in Madhya Pradesh, India

This month we have spent a week leading fieldwork in Madhya Pradesh, India for a new project which aims “To explore the use, benefits, context-specific issues and research potential of 360-degree video and mobile VR in researching teachers’ classroom practice and to support teacher professional development.”


This is a new and interesting avenue of research and we were fascinated to learn more about how this combination of mobile technologies could help support much needed improvements in teaching quality by facilitating the recording, viewing, reflecting on, documenting and sharing of classroom teaching.

Fieldwork took place in two rural primary schools and a teacher training college. Multiple lessons were recorded in 360-degree video and teachers then viewed clips of these lessons on VR headsets fitted with a smartphone, whilst participating in semi-structured interviews. In this way, teachers were able to re-watch their lesson in immersive 360-degree by simply turning their head to look around the classroom as the video replayed in real time. In doing so, as one teacher observed, you can see ‘each and every child’. Reaction and feedback were captured in the interviews. At the teacher training college, we conducted further interviews by showing trainee teachers and teacher trainers recordings of other lessons. The day concluded with a workshop involving around 50 trainee teachers.

Participant response was overwhelmingly positive and appears to confirm the feasibility and promise of this technique and approach – perhaps not just in India but in any teaching context. Over the next months we will analyse the data collected. This will be used to develop a theoretical framework for understanding 360-degree mobile VR use in teacher professional development and practical guidance for its implementation.

To our knowledge, this was the first pilot of this type to take place in Indian classrooms and teaching colleges. Looking ahead, we have secured support from the state education department to conduct further trials and have identified a range of options for follow-up work. We are keen to secure further funding and partners to explore this work further so do get in touch to learn more.

The project secured permission from the State education department who we thank for their support. The fieldwork was made possible by funding from the Open University and support from the TESS-India project.



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